Category: Archive

Ahern’s partner takes a breather

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Bertie Ahern’s partner, Celia Larkin, is taking a six months break from her £28,000 a year job as special adviser to him in the department of the Taoiseach.

Since Ahern became taoiseach in 1997, Larkin has been running a special team dealing with his Dublin Central constituency business. She is entitled to return to her job after the break.

Larkin, 40, has accompanied Ahern on state visits to China, the U.S. and Russia, and her name has appeared alongside his on state invitations.

A spokesman refused to comment on reports that she had taken the sabbatical to enrol in an education or training course. "She is a civil servant and is entitled to take a career break. It is

a personal matter for her," the spokesman said.

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Ahern, who married Miriam Kelly when he was 24 in 1975, separated from her in 1992. They have two daughters, Georgina and Cecilia.

Ahern revealed his relationship with Larkin in 1994 when he took over the leadership of the Fianna Fail party.

Larkin has not only been personally close to Ahern but has acted as his political assistant and administrator in his constituency office in Drumcondra for years. She once ran unsuccessfully in the local elections herself. She has been a key figure in a tight group of friends who run a formidable vote-gathering machine that ensured Ahern remained a poll-topper despite the pressure of an increasingly heavy workload as a minister.

Asked on RTE’s Late Late Show last year if he would divorce his wife and marry Larkin, Ahern said the situation would "sort itself out eventually.

"Celia is my partner for a long time. We have a great relationship and we are great friends and she has been a great help to me," he said.

Last October, the Church of Ireland Gazette said it found it "astonishing" that Larkin accompanied him at home and abroad.

"Mr. Ahern is a married man and he is not married to Miss Larkin. It is remarkable the leader of the government should feel no need to make an apology for this situation," the magazine said in an editorial. "We may feel a certain sympathy or even pity for Mr Ahern as an individual. But he is not an individual; he is the leader of the government, a role model. He represents our nation abroad."

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